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Fifa says pandemic will cost football $14bn

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Football is facing a $14bn (€11.8bn) shortfall in revenues globally this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to world governing body Fifa.

Olli Rehn, chairman of a Fifa committee set up to tackle the pandemic, said the organisation had estimated the ‘football economy’ to be worth $40bn to $45bn per year, meaning that about a third of it had been wiped out this year by the pandemic.

Rehn, who is also Governor of the Bank of Finland and a member of the Governing Council of the European Central Bank, told Reuters the figures were based on the current situation, in which football is gradually resuming after a three-month interruption earlier this year. He warned it would be a “different ball game” if the effect of the virus did not recede.

“Football has been hit very hard by the coronavirus pandemic”, Rehn said. “It has created plenty of turmoil at different levels with some professional clubs facing very serious difficulties. I’m also very concerned about youth academies and lower division clubs.”

While European football was hit hardest in terms of absolute cost, other parts of the world had suffered more, particularly South America, Asia and Africa.

“It is a real danger that the good work that has been done developing football in Asia and Africa could be ruined, so we want to soften the blow and maintain the development that has been done,” Rehn said.

Fifa has allocated $1.5bn to help tackle the effects of the pandemic. Rehn said 150 of its 211 member associations had so far applied for funds.

Fifa’s strong financial position meant it was in a good position to help those in need. The organisation was reported in April to have cash reserves of $2.7bn.

Rehn urged vigilance, warning that while football was gradually returning, a second downturn could not be ruled out.

“We cannot rule out worse developments and that would be another ball game if the pandemic were to continue in a severe form next year. Now we are working on the basis of the current scenario,” he said.